A Gainesville Middle School language arts teacher will trade educating pre-teens for teaching military pilots English for the summer — in Romania.
Eileen Toledo, a sixth-grade language arts teacher at Gainesville Middle School, has been asked by North Georgia College & State University to lead a group of cadets participating in the Cultural Understanding and Language Program.
The program, under the guidance of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, places 10 cadets with instructors who are charged with teaching English to top military personnel in other countries.
The cadets will act as “assistant teachers” in Toledo’s classroom and will be required to write a paper at the end of the trip. They also will receive class credit.
“It’s an adventure, but at the same time it’s a learning experience,” Toledo said.
She will teach Romanian pilots English with the help of her cadets.
“The whole idea of the program is to continue to negotiate with other countries and learning the language, so that instead of going to wars, we can talk through our problems,” Toledo said. “The ultimate goal of this program is to increase the English language across the nations so we can communicate better.”
She will stay overseas for two one-month rotations. In each, she will have 10 cadets.
Not only will the cadets help with the English teaching process, they will soak up the host country’s cultural and language skills.
“I think that being able to go on this trip and teach adults and share with them our culture and learn a little bit from their culture will only make the cadets that are going with me better people,” Toledo said.
The veteran teacher has held many positions during her 21-year career, including teaching at the high school level and having administrative roles, but she has never had the opportunity to teach overseas. She actually has never been overseas.
“I think it’s a blessing that I get to go and do this,” said Toledo. “At the same time, I think it’s going to help me be able to see from another point of view.”
She hopes her two-month trip overseas will give her more educational ammunition to bring into the classroom.
“I’m going to see people that really want to learn and hopefully when I come back I can share that with my students and just let them know how fortunate they are,” said Toledo. “Here we have people from other countries that want what we take for granted: our education system.
“We struggle with out kids here sometimes. Sometimes kids have a different perception on education than when I was growing up. ... I try to teach my kids that and just to be able to go to another country and see how they value education — I want to see how we can get something better here.”
More than 900 cadets from across the nation will participate in the program this summer.
Toledo will leave Sunday for Fort Knox, Ky., her departure point. She will be gone two full months.